Bugiri – behind every challenge is a frustration in disguise…

Long day, big blog, in Bugiri, a town 30 mins away. This is not the taxi van we went in…


And here’s a truck that looks like it could end up in a similar fate..


I’m in Bugiri, scoping out volunteer projects for the future. It was really hard finding MTCEA; we want to develop a system that will make the whole process easier for the next volunteers.

Despite and more probably because of what I’m about to show you, I know there are souls reading this who will want to help.

Bugiri has it all – a vocational training centre… Brick making looks fun…


Two young guys here make 600 patterned mud bricks a day, selling for 10 cents each. That’s good money for old dirt.

Maybe some teaching? We can arrange that too.  Every school I’ve seen is desperate for anyone interested in helping kids, especially with sports, music, drama, English and IT (though I’ve yet to see a computer in a school). We can arrange accommodation too!

So,  after a huge hike back to town in the extreme heat, humidity and scorching sun (getting the picture?)…


… we visited a secondary day school, Alliance Victory, very rural, miles from anywhere as usual, 1200 students doing O and A levels (or “vocational studies” if they’re not up to exams, lordy lordy, even unit standards would be better). Annual budget, including 32 salaries? NZ$30,000.
Within 5 minutes our man was thrust a sheet of paper with a couple of sentences and learnt that in 10 mins he was to give a keynote speech based on the sheet, as guest of honour to the upper school…


Nothing hard, just “how to remember your morals during the holidays” and “how to help your parents earn your school fees”, together with  the heart-warming but surprisingly tricky “encouraging message as pupils leave school”. Prior to my own speech was a highly energetic, very loudly amplified and spiritually uplifting sermon by the local minister, accompanied by a senior student playing hymnal background keyboards. The minister appeared to have been given the same notes, just to make my job easier.

I was ready for lunch…


… Bean(ees), green(ees), egg(ees) and, wait, what is that nasty looking uncooked stuff, salad, is that you wierd westerners call it? Sweet mercy, I love eating out, and the sharp eyed among you will note that I have studiously avoided mentioning money in my missives until today, but lunch and drinks for 3, just to give you an idea, was NZ$3.50.

Then we went to scope out the hospital, who is very keen for volunteers, as their signboard was keen to reinforce…


… And not surprising. This was aweful, so the delicately disposed of you may wish to tune to a different channel for a few minutes. This leaves me sad, angry, energised and depressed, all at once… how about a volunteer job in the paediatric ward?


Maybe the maternity ward is more your thing?


Or perhaps the delivery suite?


I know, a job for you mechanically minded volunteers, a touch up job on the ambulance…


So, you ask, I hope, how does a 300 bed hospital with 5 part-time doctors in a large town end up like this? The Ugandan who showed us all this has worked and lived in USA for Rotary Intl and was a mine of information.


He’s an angry man, rightly so. He sort of explains it by giving examples of how frustrated he is at every, EVERY opportunity he tries to open up.
1. He was in Los Angeles, managed to collect together $2 mill worth of new and secondhand medical equipment, filled 2 containers; the donors understandably had said Uganda must pay for the freight, $8,000, and the government agency here who had said “no problem” suddenly refused, so the equipment had to be returned. Gone.
2. If it had got here, some of it would have been “lost” in Kampala, the rest would have ben stolen from the hospital anyway.
3. The hospital was really well designed in the 60’s but has had absolutely nothing spent on it since. However, ample funds have been allocated to it for maintenance… Where’s it gone? New cars and houses for….?
4. “PPP”, Public/private partnership has been promoted in Uganda as a way of keeping trained doctors and nurses in public hospitals like this one by allowing them to do private work there. But it hasn’t worked here because the local health board refused to implement the scheme, so most of the original doctors have set up their own private clinics where they can earn (slightly) more. Why? The health board members earn a “fee” from private clinics.
5. We met some of a group of 50 impoverished women learning to sew, training to be tailors, bless them, with 3 old Singer machines. 4 of the women had disfigurements that meant they couldn’t use the pedals.


This wonderful man-angel has extracted money for 50 sewing machines including electric ones, and 50 computers for the vocational centre, from Rotary International. The money has been sitting in Rotary Uganda’s account for 6 months. They keep making excuses for their not being able to release it yet….
6. Water. Like others, this hospital has no running water. Can you imagine the effect of that in a children’s ward? In a lab? In the latrines? For the staff even? So in-patients have to bring their own food and water in to last the length of their stay, for them and any carers who can afford to get to the hospital.
And why is there no running water? Here’s the bore and pump house that used to supply it until 2 years ago…


… Until someone stole…. Yes, stole, the pump, the pipe work, the electrical switchboard, the wiring…. and the power pole.
We never made it to the orphanage, unfortunately.
Welcome to your volunteer placement…


Posted from MI’s WordPress for Android, as if!!


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